With Week 1 in the books except for a couple of games tonight, it’s time to look ahead to Week 2. Let’s take an early look at some of the players I think should be moving up or down your rankings based on their price.
Eli Manning ($7,600) – He completed passes to seven different receivers Sunday, including two tight ends and Vereen out of the backfield. When you have a receiver like Odell on the field and a rookie is making noise and Victor Cruz is salsa dancing, you know the weapons are in place for him to excel. It’s impossible to like all these guys without thinking that Eli is capable of serving as a useful fantasy asset for most of the year. Especially when he’s facing the now Delvin Breaux-less Saints secondary.
Derek Carr ($7,300) – Speaking of the Saints, Derek Carr just threw for 319 yards and a score in New Orleans Sunday – and while the matchup was obviously prime, that kind of performance is actually repeatable for him. This week he has a tilt against a Falcons defense that just gave up four passing scores to Jameis Winston, and there is every reason to believe that these Raiders receivers are capable of exploiting that secondary in a similar way. Michael Crabtree demonstrated that he is still a physical, talented receiver who is going to give him a reliable target when Cooper is covered – and Cooper demonstrated that that shouldn’t happen all too often. Repeatedly running away from coverage, he finished the day with six catches for 137 yards, and with that kind of efficiency in the passing game, it’s easy to imagine a one-touchdown game being much more the aberration than the norm going forward.
Jameis Winston ($6,200) – Last season, as a rookie, Winston threw for just over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns versus only 15 interceptions. For a first-year starter in a relatively conservative offense, that’s a strong first year in the league. Andrew Luck, for comparison, threw for about 300 more yards and one more touchdown in his rookie year, on 100 more attempts. Coming off a game against Atlanta yesterday where he threw for 281 yards and 4 TDs. With an ability to move the ball with his legs and stud receiving options around him, it is possible we could be about to see the ascension of the next great QB in the league this year, which would mean this price tag is about to go up, and in a hurry.
Marcus Mariota ($6,000) – He threw all over the place last year, people expected more of the same this year, and then he came out and threw for 271 yards and two scores against a good defense in Week 1. The Lions, meanwhile, were in the process of giving up 35 points to the Colts, while scoring 39 of their own. It’s easy to imagine a shootout in Week 2 as well, which could make Mariota one of the best Week 2 values on the board.
C.J. Anderson ($6,800) – All the questions, really, were answered in Week 1 in a matchup against one of the league’s best defenses. How much would Devontae Booker cut into his workload? Not much. How bad would the Broncos’ offense be with Siemien under center? It’s just different – remember all those Gary Kubiak offense’s in Houston that featured one running back, one tight end and one receiver and no one else (think Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Owen Daniels? That’s the offense – power running, single-cut lanes and play-action passing. With their defense, it’s a winning formula, and I expect to see Anderson getting as much workload as he can handle going forward.
DeMarco Murray ($5,700) – With five catches on seven targets to go along with his 13 carries, Murray served as a focal point of the Titans’ offense yesterday. The 13 runs for 42 yards might not be all that inspiring, but the Vikings have a solid front, so just pay attention to what the usage tells you. And the usage says “Derrick Henry had five carries for three yards and no catches or targets.” If this is what Murray is going to do for his new team, his yearly owners should be psyched because they got a steal in the draft and you should be thinking about starting him next week before his price jumps up another level.
Melvin Gordon ($4,800) – After entering the league with plenty of hype as a highly drafted running back going to a high-scoring offense, he went out and scored exactly zero touchdowns as a rookie. He’s off the schnide now after his two-score showing against the Chiefs, one of the better rushing defenses in the league. The issue, though, is that he still only had 14 carries to the 16 for Danny Woodhead. With Keenan Allen down, you imagine they’ll be relying on Woodhead even more as a receiver, which could keep him on the field more than Gordon’s fantasy owners would like. Despite the strong start, it might be wise to see how the usage plays out for another week before relying on him as anything other than an upside play.
A.J. Green ($8,900) – He is one of the best wide receivers in the league, playing with a QB who has been a top-5 fantasy performer in the past, and he has only missed four games in his five NFL seasons. I am not really sure why he was excluded from the Julio-Odell-Antonio group preseason, and I definitely don’t understand why he didn’t start off the next tier for absolutely everyone. After catching 12 of his 13 targets for 180 yards and a touchdown Sunday, that’s going to change. He’s a PPR monster, and if he is going to be getting in the end zone consistently, he could challenge Antonio Brown as the best fantasy receiver in the league by year’s end.
Brandin Cooks ($8,000) – Everyone was on the same page when it came to Brees and the Saints having a resurgent season offensively this year, with exciting new weapons at his disposal – the question was always just which of those weapons would be the best fantasy options. A 98-yard touchdown certainly never hurts your fantasy stats, and it shows why Cooks was regarded as the most explosive of the bunch. He and Willie Snead ($5,800) are both going to help owners win in some weeks and early indications are that they’re Brees’ favorite targets.
Travis Benjamin ($4,400) – With Keenan Allen out with a torn ACL, Benjamin is the new man in San Diego. His long grab yesterday only went for eight yards, but with seven catches in his debut, it’s clear he has Rivers’ trust. And Rivers has demonstrated over and over again throughout his career that he can make stars out of receivers you might not expect. Even if Benjamin doesn’t turn into a game-breaker, the heavily-targeted possession receiver on a Chargers offense is going to be worth considering in a PPR format going forward, especially in cash-game contests.
Julius Thomas ($4,400) – Coming into last year, word from Jacksonville was that Thomas was the most explosive player on the field in camp, but he ended up only playing in twelve games. Yesterday, he caught all five of his targets, including one touchdown, demonstrating that, when healthy, he has the potential to be the perfect complement to Robinson and Hurns in this offense. The two outside guys are going to be able to stretch the field consistently, but Bortles can’t throw go routes on every down, leaving plenty of opportunities for Thomas to rack up the catches and perform in the red zone, which can make for a great fantasy option.
Eric Ebron ($3,500) – Ebron showed what he can do when healthy. He hauled in all 5 of his targets for 45 yards and a touchdown against the lowly secondary of the Indianapolis Colts. Even without Calvin Johnson, that didn’t stop Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford from throwing the ball all over the field. Throwing the ball 39 times and completing 31 of those passes for 340 yards and 3 TDs bodes well for the starting TE Ebron. In what could be another shootout next weekend with the Tennessee Titans, Ebron should see more opportunities to produce.
Seattle Seahawks ($3,800) – Ho hum. The Seahawks defense is good, especially at home. Shocking news, I know. And yes, I am aware that Kenny Stills dropped a touchdown pass that might have given Miami the win, but it still wouldn’t have given them some amazing offensive showing. If Russell Wilson is banged up and the Seattle offense is going to sputter somewhat in the short term, you can expect this team to pound the ball, shorten games, and try to win with this unit on the field – something they have shown themselves capable of in the past, and something they could definitely be capable of this upcoming weekend against Case Keenum and the Rams.
New England Patriots ($3,000) – The Patriots stepped up in a big way against one of the most explosive offenses in the league Sunday night, holding Palmer and the Cardinals to just 21 points. They showed a gang mentality in stopping the run, defensive backs with the ability to stick to their men on the outside and – perhaps most surprisingly – a pass rush that definitely kept Palmer on his toes. Against a lesser offense, those traits not only keep scores down, they often lead to turnovers, making the Pats an attractive option in almost any matchup.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.